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Bell in front of campus in spring

Mission, History, and Leadership

Shortly after the Civil War, Westminster teacher Fayette R. Buell began to realize his dream of founding a private college. Formally founded in 1867, today Buell's dream has been realized with McDaniel College's vibrant campus and academic curriculum.

College Leadership Meet the President

A Rich History

Founded as one of the nation’s first independent, coeducational institutions of higher learning, McDaniel College’s evolution is characterized by academic excellence, extraordinary administrative and faculty dedication and resourcefulness, and increasing student selectivity and diversity. And yet, throughout its history, McDaniel College has remained committed to expanding accessibility and opportunity to first-generation college students. Situated on a scenic hilltop in Westminster, Maryland, its ideal location is just a short distance from the nation’s capital and Baltimore provides a warm, friendly campus community with boundless opportunities for global learning and engagement.

Our Mission

McDaniel College is a diverse, student-centered community committed to excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and professional studies. With careful mentoring and attention to the individual, McDaniel changes lives. We challenge students to develop their unique potentials with reason, imagination, and human concern. Through flexible academic programs, collaborative and experiential learning, and global engagement, McDaniel prepares students for successful lives of leadership, service, and social responsibility.

Our First Principles

We strive to place students at the center of a humane environment so that they may see and work toward their personal goals while respecting others and sharing the responsibility for the common good. McDaniel College believes that liberally educated men and women think and act critically, creatively, and humanely. They take charge of their lives and develop their unique potentials with reason, imagination, and human concern. They take their place in the global community, understanding their responsibilities to aid individuals and to contribute to the larger society. McDaniel College accepts the challenge to provide an academic and social environment that promotes liberal learning.

In the classrooms, in the residence halls, in the laboratories, on the playing fields, and in the lounges, McDaniel College works to live out these First Principles to support our vision of our college community.

  • We provide a foundation of knowledge about the past and present so that students may be informed about the world.
  • We provide various approaches to knowledge and personal achievement so that students can think critically about, respond creatively to, and form sensitive, intelligent decisions concerning the world and its future.
  • We provide instruction in fundamental skills so that students can express themselves for their own satisfaction and to the larger community.
  • We provide solid and respected professional programs for the committed student, and, more important, we provide a liberal arts education as an integral part of professional training so that students will be more flexible, more successful, and happier in the world of work.
Candlelighting ceremony in Baker Memorial.

Deepening Knowledge Our Motto Increased Enlightenment

Our motto, E Tenebris in Lucem Voco, means "I call you out of darkness into light."

As each student engages with our educational experience, they expand their worldview and knowledge, becoming more enlightened. This deeply personal journey is reflected in the college's motto.

A Commitment to Inclusion

McDaniel College was the first coeducational college south of the Mason-Dixon Line, and one of the first coeducational colleges in the nation. We strive to continue this tradition of social justice by committing ourselves to being a diverse and inclusive community. We are guided by our First Principles, which compel us to place students at the center of a humane environment and demand that we respect others and share responsibility for the common good.

Fearless & Bold

Dr. Lightner '59 is professor emeritus of mathematics and the College historian.  He spent six years researching and writing the meticulously detailed Fearless and Bold, a 714-page chronicle of the evolution of the College from its founding in 1867 as the first coeducational college south of the Mason-Dixon line.  Adapted from the book, this 90-minute documentary is a vibrant distillation including historic photos and a compelling narrative.

Stadium Caboose

Western Maryland College Making a Name for Ourselves McDaniel College

Originally, the college was named Western Maryland College due to its affiliation with the Western Maryland Railroad. But by 2002, the namesake railroad had long since merged with another railroad, thereby losing its name. Prospective students often mistook Western Maryland for a satellite of a public university and thought it was located in rural western Maryland.

To prevent confusion, in the summer of 2002 the school was officially renamed McDaniel College, in honor of William R. McDaniel, who - from the 1870s to 1942 - served the school as a student, professor, vice president, acting president, treasurer and trustee.

Never Stop Climbing - Gill Center

The McDaniel Commitment When You Commit to McDaniel, We Commit Right Back.

That means one-on-one mentoring with faculty members and staff members who care, experiences designed to prepare you for the world, and support services to help you shine. From your very first steps on the Hill, we'll make sure you stay on track for becoming the best possible you. It's our guarantee.